Yesterday’s post argued that unity made the great missionary teams great. These men had the majority of things in common, like background, theology, age and interests.
In this post, I’d like to encourage missionary teams to embrace their differences. Sometimes it’s the contrasts that make the Missions Locomotive run fast and far.
The Serampore Trio embraced their dissimilarities. Here are three of them.
1. They Had Different Personalities
Carey might have been the leader, but he was painfully shy in some settings compared to his teammates. There seemed to have been little jealousy between the Trio. They sharpened each other when they saw a dull blade. Carey wrote to his friend Ryland back home about his teammate Marshman:
“Marshman is all keenness for God’s work. Often have I seen him, when we have been walking together, eye a group of persons, like a hawk, and go up to try on them the Gospel’s utmost strength. I have known him engage with such for hours, more eager for the contest when he left off than when he began. It has filled me with shame. In point of zeal he is a Luther, I an Erasmus.”
Carey excels twice. First, he acknowledges a serious way Marshman is his superior. Carey owns this very real difference and verbalizes it to a mutual friend. Second, Carey tries to improve by observing Marshman’s superiority. It filled him “with shame,” he said. Carey didn’t say, “that’s just the way he is.” Carey effectively said, “When I watch Marshman evangelize, guilt fills my heart. I’ve got to do better. I’ve go to improve.”
When Jesus sends missionaries around the world, he’s uses them as individuals and as parts of a team. David Brainerd lived alone for many years as he evangelized the Native American Indians. Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, John Paton, Robert Moffat, James Gilmour, David Livingstone and a host of other missionaries all experienced years of ministry alone. The very definition of pioneer missions often means working solo, at least in the beginning.
But I’m a proponent of team missions and believe the Serampore Trio is one of the greatest examples of teamwork in the history of world evangelism. They tripled and quadrupled the output of their work compared to what they could have done individually.
Henry Martyn, the great missionary to India and Persia, never had the privilege of enjoying a permanent teammate and companion on the field. He did, however, have the joy of knowing each member of the Serampore Trio. He wrote:
“Three such men as Carey, Marshman, and Ward, so suited to one another and their work, are not to be found, I think, in the whole world.”
In 1793, William Carey arrived in Bengal as a missionary. Today he is known as the Father of Modern Missions. William Ward and Joshua Marshman joined him six years later. They eventually chose as their headquarters the city of Serampore, just a few miles north of Calcutta, one of the largest cities in India. They became known as the Serampore Trio. Carey’s biographer wrote of this team: “No three men ever had a soul so single.” Continue reading →
J.C. Ryle said that friendships double our joy and halve our troubles. Good Christian friends should ask each other these fifteen questions to improve their friendship.
Guys don’t converse well sitting across from each other. Guys need to move. Guys use their hands and feet when talking. Girls are better at talking across a booth. Ladies like to talk with their legs curled up on the sofa. Guys like to talk in front of a football game.
If you’re uncomfortable talking over coffee, shoot hoops instead. Drive across town. Hike up a mountain. Go to the driving range. Clean out the carburetor. Sharpen the lawn mower blade. Throw the baseball. While you’re at it, ask the following questions.
When you’re done reading, I’ll show you what to do with them at the end.
15 Questions on Friendship
Do you think I’d stand shoulder to shoulder with you in battle, or do you doubt my loyalty? (Gal. 6:2)
Where’s one area I’ve really encouraged you such that you wished I did it more often? (Heb. 10:24)
Is there anything I’ve said or done in the past that still bothers you because we never reconciled the matter? (Matt. 18:15)
What’s one annoying thing I do that isn’t a huge deal and you wouldn’t bring it up on your own but it’s still, frankly, irritating? (Gal. 5:15)
Would you say you have a number of good, meaningful friendships, or are you isolated? (Pr. 18:24)
Do you have confidence I pray for you and what does or doesn’t give you such confidence? (James 5:16)
Do I better our friendship by loving your family or do I hinder our relationship because of how I treat your wife and kids? (2Sm. 9:1)
What are two goals and dreams you have that are so big and far-fetched you neglect to voice them? (1 Thess. 5:11)
Can you be open and honest with me or do you wear a mask covering your weaknesses?
Do I do anything that causes you to stumble or stops you from being your best? (Rm. 14:13)
Do I actively look for ways to serve you or am I selfish in my ambitions? (Gal. 5:26)
Am I quick to forgive or do I prefer to hold a grudge? (Eph. 4:32)
Would you say I’m petty over small foibles or do I look for the best and glory in what you do well? (Col. 3:12)
Do I constructively criticize you with open rebuke, or do I wimp out and ignore your faults? (Pr. 27:5-6)
Where are two ways I can keep you accountable? (Pr. 9:8)
Locate your 2-3 closest friends. DO NOT use this list with a general acquaintance. That would be weird.
Send him an email or a link with these questions. Ask him to answer honestly.
Or, join him for a road trip or barbecue and toss him a few questions.